If you travel back in time, say to the NFL Draft in 2004, you will wince when you relive the announcement that the Dolphins made a trade and jumped one spot over the Minnesota Vikings to take OG Vernon Carey in the first round. The price for the jump? A 4th round pick. You will also remember the subtle snickers from the ESPN analysts while saying it made no sense because the Vikings had no interest in Carey…and no one else did either.
Fast forward to the present and Jeff Ireland will facing off against the former Dolphins GM, Rick Spielman. This time it will be for the services of WR Mike Wallace. According to reports, the Vikings and possibly the Titans are all interested in competing for the big play threat WR. This will do two things. Put pressure on Ireland to come out on top (if the team truly covets the wide-out) and secondly drive the price of the contract way north of the 56 million deal recently signed by Dwayne Bowe.
Ireland and the Dolphins have spent the last few years playing the homely bridesmaid. They lost out in the Peyton Mannings sweepstakes, ran afoul in their pursuit of Jim Harbaugh…AND Jeff Fisher. Lost out apparently on a deal for Vincent Jackson last season, and of course the “big news” following the Brandon Marshall trade that never transpired…likely because it was Vincent Jackson.
As the Dolphins near a deal for WR Brian Hartline, the team is going to enter free agency south of the 35 million dollar mark in cap space. Ireland is tasked with making this team not better but competitive. Not competitive in the division but in the AFC period. Fans expect a playoff birth and Ireland’s future is on the line with every move he does and doesn’t make.
The Dolphins are going to overpay for the services of Mike Wallace or any other top of the line free agent. It’s the nature of the business. As someone who has been covering the team now for almost six years daily, I would not rule out a good old fashioned “oop-di-oop” to steal a line from Varsity Blues.
Ireland is not someone who deals direct and never has been. No one expected the Brandon Marshall trade and he and his office had that deal done days before the free agency period. He surprised people with the trade of Vontae’ Davis as well and does not follow the path of popular belief. If there is one thing I have seen consistently in Ireland is that if someone says he is coming from the left, I would keep an eye on the right.
The Dolphins are always a popular rumor source as well. Last year they were the odds on favorite to land Peyton Manning days and weeks before the start of free agency. They came nowhere close to landing him. It was a foregone conclusion that the Dolphins would also add Colts WR Reggie Wayne but never made an offer. Matt Flynn, Bart Scott, Kyle Orton, and the names go on. At one time or another prior to the start of the league new year, players are consistently being linked to the Dolphins.
This year, the Dolphins will have a 3 day window to negotiate starting at 12:01 Saturday morning and closing on Tuesday at 4:00 pm when they and every other team can announce deals. In that 3 day window, teams may negotiate with the agents for those players but can not speak with or visit with the players themselves. While not a lot of “real” deals will get done, the rumor mill should be free flowing all weekend long.
Expect this years crop of Dolphins rumored interests to be Jared Cook, Greg Jennings, and of course Mike Wallace. On Tuesday, we will have a better idea of who wins the Ireland/Spielman showdown.